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A Different Kind

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There was a time
I met a girl of a different kind.


[Don’t You Worry, Child, Swedish House Mafia]




When they had hired her, they’d said ‘maybe this will work’.

Voices full of sighs and exhaustion, they had said, ‘maybe this will (finally) work’.

And sure, she’d known what they meant. She wasn’t an idiot (though some folks might tend to disagree), and she wasn’t so full of herself as to assume this was about her skill. (Though she was confident enough to know that she was just as good, if not better, than the people they might have normally considered.) But Beca was a realist and a realist knew that no woman would be hired as a pianist at Barden’s Back Room.

Unless a woman was exactly what they needed.

And why they needed a woman all went back to Chloe Beale.





There were a lot of rumors about exactly how Chloe Beale had forced the Back Room to look for a pianist with certain... unusual qualities. ('Unusual' meaning a lack of a dong, Beca would be quick to point out, if anyone asked her. But no one did.)

The most prevalent was that Chloe Beale broke the heart of any man behind the keys accompanying her. The boys liked to spread this one, probably so that 'taming' the red-headed sheba would come with more than the typical host of accolades that bagging a particularly pretty bird might bring. And of course, these dandies were the type to think they'd be the one to do the bagging. (Bunch of delusional loafs, they were.)

Another rumor claimed that it was Chloe Beale who was doing the falling, and the upstanding young gentlemen pianists were forced to quit after the singers very first (and very inevitable) jealous rage. It wasn't a stretch to imagine that it was the gals who started this one.

But Stacie had told her (and Stacie was the sort of broad who would know) that it had nothing whatsoever to do with the appendage between the legs of the pianist and everything to do with how well he could use his fingers. Not even in the dirty way (though that was another rumor as well), but in the very innocent and stark meaning of how well he could actually play the piano. Chloe Beale kept demanding new pianists and the boys kept providing, but according to Stacie, none of them were quite up to the impossible standards of the acclaimed singer.

(According to Stacie, Chloe Beale was something of an entitled bitch. And Stacie was the sort of broad who would say so, word for word.)

Still, Beca had reckoned one of the former explanations was more likely than the last.

Or rather, hoped it was, since she could surely deal with either.

Because a dame like Chloe Beale certainly wouldn’t be doing any messing with her heart and Beca certainly wouldn’t be causing a dame like Chloe Beale to do any falling. But dealing with a diva… that was another matter entirely.




Beca was wrong.




In fact, Beca was wrong for a lot of reasons.

The most unfortunate being that Stacie had been pretty spot on about Chloe Beale.

"I am here to perform and you are here to keep up. If you cannot manage that, you will be terminated. I care not how handsome you think you are, or how charming other ladies find you; if you cannot play adequately, you are useless to me. Should you make one comment about the skill of your fingers in a context other than music, I assure you, I will make sure Luke breaks them. Furthermore..."

Chloe Beale swept into the room like a tornado; all howling winds and destruction with red flame trailing behind. No looking back, neither, because Chloe Beale didn't notice the sort of pianist her club had hired for her until Beca cut in with a tone probably too sharp for a first day hire. (But when had that ever stopped her?)

"You ain't gotta worry about that with me. None of it."

And she had to give Beale some credit; when she did turn to look at Beca, her face was as cool and composed as anything. Hardly even a blink for the woman sitting at the bench, fingers already resting on the keys.

"They hired a woman." And that was pretty much it. Maybe a head tilt thrown in, as though it would help in her appraisal of her new pianist, but other than that, nothing. "Very well, but do not think this means I will take it easy on you. Same rules apply: no flirtation, no foolish jokes, no crying, and no falling behind."

At least Chloe Beale didn't discriminate. 

That was something.



There were a lot of somethings involved in working with Chloe Beale.

For Beca though, most of those somethings involved some form of frustration.

“That’s not right.”

Beca’s head fell back as she groaned. It was a far more gentle expulsion of her aggravation than she would’ve normally gone for. If she hadn’t been only just hired. And in dire need of dough.

“And just what’s not right ‘bout it?”

“It’s too…” Chloe’s foot tapped against the stage floor twice, drawing Beca’s attention upward to the (undeniably) pleasant sight of the singer (and her pursed lips). “You are not following what’s written on your sheets.”

Admittedly, this was true.

“It sounds good though, don’t it? Maybe if we just…”

The pursed lips dipped further downwards. “If you are not able to play what is so clearly before you, I will find a new pianist.”

“I can play it. It’s just dull as paint dryin’. You don’t have to play these same ‘ol tunes, you know. A song from this decade ain’t a bad thing. You got a voice that could pull off the new stuff, too.”

No harm in trying to flatter the singer a bit, Beca reckoned. Especially when she didn’t have to lie in the process. Especially when Chloe looked as though she were trying to hide what might have been a pleased smile.

“Look, I’m just sayin’…”

And there it went; as soon as the hint of the smile appeared, it was gone. Beca nearly sighed.

“I do not pick my songs, Miss Mitchell. The club does. Now, if you wouldn’t mind.”




Point being: if Beca had to play In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree one more time, she was gonna need a full glass of hooch to get through it.




The next practice featured no hooch, but Chloe was running late for the first time in her prima donna life, so that, at least, gave Beca some one-on-one time with the ‘ol black-and-whites. Her piano at home was lacking (in keys, intonation, and a petal and a half), so playing on the one they had at the Back Room was a big boon, even if she normally had to waste the beaut on stuff like Old Apple Tree.

Her fingers ached for more.

(And she meant that in the perfectly respectable way that Chloe Beale had spoken on in her first meeting with the woman.)

What was the harm in indulging herself a little?




So said Dumb Dora before setting her goddam house on fire.

“What are you doing?”

Beca’s fingers paused on the keys. ‘Paused’ was the polite way of putting it though, and Beca normally wasn’t too polite. So maybe it’s more like her fingers jerked to a halt, twitching like little guppies gasping on their last breath (the toxin of Old Apple Tree already in the air). 

“Playin’,” she said, as though her fingers weren’t already shuddering at the torture to come.

“Playing,” Chloe repeated, all fully pronounced and (in Beca’s humble opinion) totally snooty. “Playing what?”

“Just a little somethin’ I—”

“Never mind.” The cut off came hard and fast, like the shunting off of all emotions on Chloe Beale’s now-closed-off face. “It matters not. Let us begin.”




Beca was gonna have to start sneaking in that bootleg juice. She was sure of it.




Except that Chloe Beale was late again.

For the second day in a row.

A goddam miracle; that was what that was.




Or maybe not.

Because five minutes later and Chloe Beale still wasn’t there, but the eyes at Beca’s back were

She was sure of it.

But if it meant avoiding songs from the 1800s for another five minutes more, Beca wasn’t about to say nothing.




She got the five minutes.

Plus two.

And then:

“What are you playing?”

“Just a little somethin’ I wrote.”

She also got to finish her sentence this time around.

So that was something.

And it was something new.




The fifth time Chloe Beale was late, the novelty wore off.

“I know you’re listenin’. Might as well come on in.”

Chloe Beale wasn’t a woman to look ashamed, and she certainly didn’t look it when she came in, but Beca liked to think she looked a little put out, if nothing else.

“What are you playing?” Chloe asked again.

“Just a little somethin’ I wrote.”

The huff she got in reply was pretty satisfying.

“Are you ever going to say anything else?”

“Are you ever gonna ask any other question?”

The way Chloe’s mouth snapped shut at that was pretty satisfying too. If Beca was going to get fired over this whole thing, at least she had that.

Unfortunately, satisfaction was a crummy substitute for dough.

Fortunately, it didn’t look like Beca was getting thrown out. Not today, at least.

“Play it for me again.”




In the future, Beca will look back on those five words and declare them The Start.

But on April 25, 1926, they were just a start.




“I wrote some words.”

A week later, and Beca had come to realize that this was the next step.

The first ten minutes of every practice had become, without any official ceremony, freestyle time, wherein Beca was allowed to play whatever should strike her fancy, while Chloe listened. In return, Beca reckoned it was only fair that she not sigh too loudly when she had to switch over to songs written by people who were now a bunch of dirt and bones and gunk. 

But enough was enough. Chloe was talented beyond measure, but from the way she performed, you might think she was a robot. And Beca had seen R.U.R. at Garrick Theatre a few months ago, so she would know.

“Congratulations, Miss Mitchell. You are literate.”

Alright, so maybe she wouldn’t know. Apparently, Chloe possessed the ability for sass. And even a smirk that Beca might have called teasing. Gently teasing.

“Words for a song, I mean.”

Her fingers moved over the keys with caution, testing out a few bars as she watched Chloe for any signs of interest.

She didn’t have to wait for long. There they were, right away; tilted head, slight smile, burning gaze. And then, as Chloe carefully stepped down from the stage and came to a rest directly in front of the piano, a simple question (not even a masked command):

“Will you sing it for me?”

 It was unexpected and sudden and exactly what Beca had been waiting for. Chloe’s gaze felt heavy, but reassuring, pressing Beca’s fingers down onto the keys. 

All that was left was to take a deep breath. And sing.




There was something about Chloe Beale.

Beca had known that even before she even met the broad. But now she knew it, because when Chloe walked into the bar that morning, there was a smile on her face that was sort of… everything.

“I spoke with Luke!”

The blink she received clearly wasn’t what Chloe was looking for, seeing as her eyes immediately rolled upwards as a result.

“The owner. Luke. I spoke with him about us playing your song.”

There were a lot of things in that sentence that Beca needed more than a couple seconds to process. The fact that Chloe Beale had gone to the trouble. That she wanted to sing something new. The ‘us’. The ‘your’.

And that smile.

Hell. That smile.

Which was disappearing with more eye rolling.

“Truly? Nothing? Not even a ‘thank you’?”

“No! I—shit! Um—that’s—”

The smile was growing again. With every word Beca stumbled over. And Beca felt warm, all over, just seeing it come back.

“Chloe, that’s… thank you.”

The use of the woman’s given name was unintentional, and as Chloe’s eyebrows rose, so too did a wave of something akin to panic within Beca’s throat. But the smile was still there and it was even softer now, and the warmth pushed back the panic as quickly as it had appeared in the first place.

“You’re welcome.” There was a pause and… something else. A look. One that was maybe significant. “…Beca.”




Hearing Chloe sing her song was… something. Another kind of something.

Beca had found she was running out of words for Chloe Beale, which was funny, because at first, she would have been able to describe her in just the one. But Chloe singing the words that Beca had written—voice reaching and dipping to the notes that Beca had scrawled onto a blank staff—that was beyond anything in her vocabulary.

But when the door to the Back Room slammed open and some hussy with a serious frown stormed in… well, Beca had a word for that. Too bad it was drowned out by said blonde, screeching like bleeding banshee within five seconds of her entering the place.

Chloe! What is—this is—what is happening here?”

A significant look from Chloe kept Beca from responding with the obvious, but only just. She knew Chloe wasn’t big on people interrupting their practice (she’d once actually used the word ‘exiled’ when talking to the barkeep that’d dropped a glass during warm-up scales), and maybe Chloe had become a bit more easy-going in the past few months, but not enough that she was going to let this one go, no matter who this wailing blonde was.  

So when Chloe stepped off stage with the grace of a woman who’d been lectured on the meaning of the word from day one, Beca might have grinned. A little. Looking forward to the show and whatnot, now that she wasn’t part of the act any more.

Except that the start never came.

“Aubrey,” Chloe began, completely calm, kissing both the other woman’s cheeks, like she was from France or something. “What a delightful surprise.”

That definitely wasn’t the phrase Beca would have used. And it definitely wasn’t the phrase Chloe ever used when greeting her.

But never mind that.  

“Chloe. What is this I hear about a set change?”

The blonde uttered the words with such a level of disgust that Beca was sure she must have heard her wrong. But apparently not, if Chloe’s next words were any indication.

“Oh, yes! Isn’t it wonderful? Your fiancé said we should give the crowd a bit of a surprise! Isn’t that lovely? I think it will be quite exciting, do you not?”

It was strange, seeing Chloe this way; all charm and ease and warmth. And Beca wasn’t sure it was all an act. Beca wasn’t sure about a lot of things regarding Chloe Beale these days, in fact, but this was a far cry from the woman who had said no more than ten different words during their first several practices together.

But then, Beca was a far cry from the blonde Chloe was conversing with now—all perfectly curled hair and perfectly tilted hat and perfectly pressed skirt and perfectly applied makeup and… Beca, with her too-long hair and ‘radical’ eye-liner, was in breeches and boots and an oversized, rolled up oxford. Not exactly her glad rags.

It was one of those fun reminders that Beca was very, very far away from the world these two women lived in.

But also a reminder that Chloe—who was now excitedly explaining to ‘Aubrey’ how Luke had given her the go-ahead to try out a new song and she thought it was going to be great and it was really lucky they had hired a pianist that could compose songs too—didn’t really seem to care that Beca was down in the slums, socially speaking. She only cared that Beca could play. Could keep up with her.  And that was kind of refreshing.

Even if it’d taken them a while to get there.

Not that they were really anywhere, apparently. Because blondie was frowning like someone’d just taken her pretty pearl necklace and shoved it right up the back end.

“I thought we were over this silliness, Chloe, dear.” Aubrey’s face was suddenly almost maternal. Chastising. Her tone was the sort meant to convey all kind of reasonableness, but did anything but.  

Beca didn’t like it one bit.

“Oh, but—”

“Chloe.” It was that same tone. But this time with a condescending arm pat. Beca nearly rolled her eyes. “These songs make people happy. We give the public what they want. That is our job. They come here to hear you sing the songs they know.”

“Yeah, but she’s better than those songs,” came the interjection. 

And it took Beca a moment to realize that the interjection had come from her.

She had managed to hold back the eye roll, but apparently that had used up all her resolve, letting her mouth jump into action before her brain was fully on board. And she hadn’t realized just how strongly she’d felt about it until she heard the conviction in her own voice.

Because yeah. She was still talking. And standing.

Apparently she was standing.


“She’s much better than those songs. Can do more than those old songs let her display. They’re holdin’ her back.”

It was lucky she refrained from adding that blondie was the one holding Chloe back, because even without that last bit, she turned on Beca with a gaze that was something fierce.

“I’m sorry. Who the hell are you?”

The woman’s voice rose in pitch with the swear. Like it was something Beca should recognize as a dangerous rarity.

Chloe sure seemed to.

“She’s simply the pianist, Aubrey. Calm down.” Chloe cut in quickly, throwing another warning look Beca’s way as she took Ms. Wet Blanket’s hand, all gentle and shit. But the look was one that Beca heeded, sitting back down and keeping her big fat mouth shut, feeling kind of sore about that ‘simply the pianist’ comment, if she was being honest with herself.

“It’s one song, Aubrey. Tacked on at the end. Nothing worth fretting over. If it falls flat, we will go back to the regular set the next night.”

Aubrey didn’t look away from Beca—not for a long moment. And Beca knew she ought to be the one to look away first—some kind of hierarchy thing—but she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

“This is a mistake, Chloe. This is a very big mistake.”

It was pretty clear that she wasn’t just talking about singing a new song.




“So,” Beca began, not a moment after Aubrey had stormed out of the place like it was on fire. “Who’s Mrs. Grundy?”

Chloe laughed.

It sounded sort of like relief, or maybe that was just Beca projecting. (It wasn’t like she afraid of Miss Priss! But she was kind of glad the woman was gone anyways.)

“Her name is Miss Posen, and she is Luke’s fiancée." Chloe paused. "And the woman in charge of musical selection at the club."

"Huh. No kidding. And you're what? Friends?"

The look on Beca's face must have been aghast, because Chloe scoffed as a result. "Is that so unbelievable to you, Miss Mitchell?"

"Nah. It just sorta explains a lot. No wonder you'd started out all snooty. With her as your instructor. And friend!"

"Miss Mitchell!"

Okay, so maybe she'd gone too far with that one, though Chloe seemed at least slightly appeased by her hurried mumbled apology and sheepish expression.

"No, I mean— I just—I dunno," Beca continued, mumbling something awful, she knew. "It's like you're a bunch of different people. Chloe Beale: the performer. And then Miss Posen's project: Chloe Beale. And then Chloe Beale: the Big Cheese. And… I dunno. Then there's just the you that sings. When you sing the stuff you like. That's someone else too."

Chloe was looking at her with an expression Beca couldn't quite decipher, and it made her want to stop talking. Quickly. Because she was getting the feeling that maybe she was saying something she really shouldn’t.  

"Aw, shit, Chloe. I know I’m all balled up here. I just... dunno who you are. Or what you want," she finished. Lamely.  

There was a long moment of silence, and though Beca felt uncomfortable, she could not look away from the curious expression on the face of Chloe Beale. 

"I... wanted to be an opera singer," Chloe finally said, breaking the silence, though not at all in the way Beca had thought she might.

"When I was a child, I mean. I wanted to be an opera singer. My father thought I had the talent. Instructed me in the art and brought in the finest tutors in the area. That was to be my path in life and I was well on my way by the time I turned eighteen. I was sent here for further lessons and to be introduced to the city that would surely make me its star."

There was a halt in the story, Chloe’s lips forming a slight smile rather than words. Beca could not determine the cause for it, but she could admit to her curiosity.

"So... what changed?"

"I fell in love." Chloe smirked at Beca's expression, nearly laughing. "Don't make that horrid face. It wasn't with a person. It was with... this.”

She made a sweeping gesture, which Beca followed with her eyes, but still lost the meaning. It was a speakeasy. A nice one, sure, but it was just a bar. One that was just as likely as any other to be closed at any moment, during these times.

Her little shrug softened Chloe’s expression, and caused her to continue in her explanation.

“With the City, I mean. The real world. I fell in love with the lights and the smoke and the clubs and the life. I wanted to be a part of it."

This wasn't the story Beca had been expecting. Though, truth be told, she wasn't sure what she had been expecting at all.

"I was lucky. I met Aubrey at one of my early opera performances. She was impressed, and I found out she was involved with Luke, who was looking for a new act; an act that Aubrey was going to be able to construct to her liking. When she heard I was thinking of perhaps exploring new avenues, she invited me to audition. To show her what I was capable of.

"So you see, I owe Aubrey a great deal. She was my conduit to this life. It was… more freeing than I ever imagined it would be. But—" Chloe smiled, somewhat crookedly. "It came with new restrictions. Not unfair ones, but—well. There is always a role to play."

The words (the smile) were sobering. And it occurred to Beca that maybe she couldn't figure out Chloe Beale because Chloe herself didn't know who she was (or maybe just didn’t know who she was allowed to be). And for the second time in the span of a half hour, Beca felt a fierce protectiveness well up in her. For a woman who, for all intents and purposes, appeared to have the world.

"Not for me." Beca swallowed, looking down and running her hands over the keys, light enough to not make a single sound. "You don't gotta play any role for me."

When she looked back up, Chloe's gaze was on her, and it made her cheeks flush. Made her fingers twitch.

Because the look on Chloe's face wasn't really anything she was used to; gentle and kind and grateful, maybe. And that kind of look, on a woman like Chloe Beale... it could do things to a person. Especially when combined with soft words, spoken so quietly that Beca had to lean forward to catch them.

"Thank you, Beca."

And there was that name again too. Her name. From those lips. Purposeful and warm.

Beca had to swallow.






"So... we're still playing it?"

Chloe looked up, her expression almost amused. "Your song? Yes. Tonight." And then that smile. "Did you think something had perhaps changed since yesterday?"

"Eh, I dunno," Beca shrugged. "I just— I was thinkin'—"

"Oh, you shouldn't ever do that!"

"I was thinkin'," she continued, rolling her eyes at Chloe, "that—um—you could get in trouble for this, yeah? And I could get in trouble too, right? And since, y'know, you told me that story yesterday, I was just thinkin'—"

"It will be fine, Beca." But she looked a bit appreciative. And surprised. "You do think your composition is good, do you not?"

"’Course I do!"

"And I am the woman to sing it?"

"Yeah! Absolutely."  And she meant it, even if her eyes dipped down to the piano keys her fingers automatically spread out on.

"Then there you are. I do not believe there is anything further to discuss. We will play your song tonight. And it will be a great success."

Chloe had stepped off the stage by this point, coming to rest her forearms on the top of the piano, and Beca hadn't realized just how intently the woman was looking at her until she glanced up to agree. It made her breath catch a little.

(Or a lot.)

And it was moments like that—moments where Beca felt everything in her chest flutter—moments where everything softened in Chloe's eyes— it was moments like that that made Beca feel as though something significant was happening, even if she couldn't put a name on exactly what that something was.

But that was always how it had been with Chloe, hadn't it? Even from the first day of practice, there had always been something about her that was undefined, or at the very least, masked, and Beca wasn't sure what it was that made her want to dive in and discover what was there.

Because with each new discovery, she felt herself growing more and more involved.

(Sinking deeper.)

"And how!” She replied, going for enthusiastic. “We're gonna be great, yeah? Wanna go through everything one more time?"

Chloe leaned back, pushing herself off of the piano and taking in a breath in thought.



Beca couldn't help it. Her eye widened.

But she couldn’t feel too displeased by the result, when the result was Chloe letting out a loud laugh.

"Oh, come now, I am not that much of a wet blanket, am I?"

"Uh—you sorta—"

Chloe waved her off. "Never mind. I am not sure I would like the answer to that question. Play me something instead."

"What kind of something?" Beca plucked at the keys, eyes searching Chloe's for some kind of explanation to the brightness she found there.

"Any kind of something." Chloe paused, taking a step around the piano. "The kind of something that will make me fall in love with it all, all over again. The city. The lights. The music. That kind of something."

She felt the air leave her lungs.

Chloe's eyes were so bright.

And god. Beca could hardly breathe.

"That's—that's a tall order, Ms. Beale."

"Oh, not really."

She wasn't sure how Chloe could sound so casual. Not when she was looking at Beca like that.

"That's rather how your music always makes me feel."

There wasn't really a proper response to something like that.

(Or if there was, Beca didn't know of it.)

All that was left was for her fingers to stroke the keys (gently, gently) and play.

Chloe swayed alongside the piano and closed her eyes and Beca could only play.

(Apparently, that was enough.)




"I know you cannot be nervous."

The words came from behind her, but Beca did not have to turn in order to identify the owner of the voice, seemingly a constant over the past few months—first cold, but then warm, as it was now.

"Is that really so mind-boggling?"

She did turn then, only to be greeted by a crooked smile that was full of teasing, but only of the gentle sort.

"It is, actually. In the beginning, I thought surely a woman with such confidence could not have the skills to match."

The backstage was quiet. It typically was, with only Chloe and her present. Outside though, the bustling of the crowd was (for maybe the first time) drumming against Beca's ears, a steady murmur that made her feel a bit warm under her suddenly too tight collar.

"And now?"

Beca had only taken her eyes off of Chloe for a moment, attention briefly focusing on the sounds coming from the other side of the door. But when she turned back to face the woman, she was closer. A lot closer. It didn't help with the heat. Or the creeping tightness in her throat.

"Now that ‘over’-confidence now simply seems...  an acknowledgement of obvious skill."

The compliment was unexpected, but perhaps exactly what Beca needed.

"Oh. Uh—"

Not that she knew how to respond to it.

"—Thanks," she finished, not coming up with anything better.

But Chloe's soft chuckle followed, and so maybe it was okay.

"You have no reason to be nervous. I would not lie to you."

"Right. Not exactly known for pullin' punches, are you?"

That laugh again and was Chloe now closer somehow? Beca was suddenly aware of the wall at her back. Of the narrowness of the hallway where they stood. Of the high probability of someone opening the door before them, at any moment. (Not that she knew why that last one would matter at all.)

"No. I suppose not." Chloe looked almost wistful. "I've learned that it's better not to. In this business. Being forgiving has only ever led to problems, in my experience. But apparently I am risking it yet again."

Beca wanted to ask what she meant by that, but the air was warm and her head felt light and words were hard. And besides, Chloe was already moving on, shaking her head and smiling at Beca in a way that didn't help her current situation.

"Oh never mind that. You're ready, Beca. Trust me."

"I do."

Words were hard, but those two, at least, came easy.

Fast and ready, like they'd been waiting on her tongue for some time now.

(And maybe they had been.)

"Then let's put on a show."

Beca nodded, hand reaching for the door, but as she started to turn, she felt a tug on her free wrist—a soft whispered wait—and then she was being pulled back and Chloe was closer (close enough to breathe in and too close to see) and there was the brush of something warm over her lips and it took a long moment—a moment where Chloe pulled back and smiled at her—for Beca to come to the realization that the something warm had been Chloe's lips.

She blinked.

"For luck," Chloe explained, throwing in a wink as though what had just occurred had been nothing.

As though Beca wasn't still trying to process the entire thing.

As though she couldn't still taste a hint of a flavor on her lips that didn't quite belong there.

(But should. Or could. Or... it wasn't unwelcome, certainly. Which was—what was she even thinking right now?)

"Uh—yeah. Luck. Good luck."

But Chloe was already gone—brushing past Beca to enter the joint—cheers flooding Beca's ears, even after the door swung shut once again. And Beca was left standing in the hallway, trying to piece together the series of events that had led to the host of emotions that were causing her brain to short-circuit.

Had Chloe thought this would help?

Had she thought this would calm Beca's nerves?

Had she thought Beca would be able to play even two notes properly after that?

Good god.

(Had Chloe even thought anything of it at all?)

She blinked again.

And maybe that did it—hit some kind of reset button—because then she was pushing the door open and walking to the piano and her hands were finding the keys and her eyes were finding Chloe's and she was somehow playing, but—





And Beca had thought a dame like Chloe Beale wouldn't be doing any messing with her heart.

Funny, that.